Answer: This can easily be done but you must be very careful about how it is done.
The first step is to determine the heat load of you home utilizing industry standard methods. Your contractor should show you their calculations and the square footage as well as other information such as window area and type, insulation and other factors should match your home. This will determine the size or tons of cooling required to properly cool your home in your area.
Once the AC size is determined the existing furnace and ducts will need to be confirmed as adequately sized to move the required air for the air conditioning system to function properly and provide the rated efficiency, it is generally accepted that 400 cubic feet per minute of air for every ton of cooling is required. In order top obtain this you may need to modify your ducts and possibly replace your furnace to accommodate the new air conditioning system. Most often the return duct work and air filters sizes are not sized properly and will required modifications and in some cases additional supply runs will need to be added to allow for the added air flow.
Another thing to consider is that the duct plenums at the furnace and possibly the furnace itself will be moved or modified in order to install the required indoor air coil (evaporator) and depending on the age of your furnace and it’s rated efficiency it may make financial sense to replace the furnace at this time considering the added cost to replace the furnace later.
Other factors to consider is the placement of the outdoor unit (condenser) which ideally should be on the north side of your home so that it is in the shade as much as possible for the best efficiency. The refrigerant line set (copper pipes) and electrical power will need to be installed to this location so this must also be considered as far as cost as well as adequate access for installation.
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